Effects of lane departure warning on police-reported crash rates
Objective: To evaluate the effects of lane departure warning (LDW) on single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes. Method: Police-reported data for the relevant crash types were obtained from 25 U.S. states for the years 2009-15. Observed counts of crashes with fatalities, injuries, and of all severities for vehicles with LDW were compared with expected counts based on crash involvement rates for the same passenger vehicles without LDW, with exposure by vehicle series, model year, and lighting system standardized between groups. For relevant crashes of all severities and those with injuries, Poisson regression was used to estimate the benefits of LDW while also controlling for demographic variables; fatal crashes were too infrequent to be modeled. Results: Without accounting for driver demographics, vehicles with LDW had significantly lower involvement rates in crashes of all severities (18%), in those with injuries (24%), and in those with fatalities (86%). Adding controls for driver demographics in the Poisson regression reduced the estimated benefit of LDW only modestly in crashes of all severities (11%, p<0.05) and in crashes with injuries (21%, p<0.06). Conclusions: Lane departure warning is preventing the crash types it is designed to address, even after controlling for driver demographics. Results suggest that thousands of lives each year could be saved if every passenger vehicle in the United States were equipped with a lane departure warning system that performed like the study systems. Practical applications: Purchase of LDW should be encouraged, and, because drivers do not always keep the systems turned on, future efforts should focus on designing systems to encourage greater use and educating consumers about the benefits of using the systems.